The main impact of Google’s ‘Farmer’ update has been to lower the ranking of poor quality websites by changing the algorithm which controls search results. Some have claimed that this is a form of warfare waged specifically on ‘content farms.’ However, Google maintain that the affected sites, regardless of their origins, are those which contain plagiarised or copied content, shallow (not useful) content and badly written content, aka ‘virtual junk’ or ‘pollution.’
Content farms have large quantities of individuals on tap whom they task to create textual website content, designed purely to achieve maximum rankings by the search engines. Sometimes referred to as ‘crowdsourcing,’ writers are required to work on a ‘self-employed’ basis, are often poorly paid and have little or no knowledge of what they are writing about. It is therefore of little surprise that they are unable to write a unique or articulate piece. Once completed, articles also tend to go directly online without further checking or proofing for accuracy, grammar and spelling.
Of course, not all outsource companies are ‘content farms,’ but the recent media attention could potentially reflect badly on the genuine ones. They also operate by contracting freelance writers to provide website content, but individuals are carefully chosen for their knowledge of a specific subject and paid for their work according to experience. All work is proofread (by another person) and verified by the client before going live usually for the purpose of link building services.
Despite being a current topic, the basic problem stems back to the level of literacy (and commitment) of those doing the writing. Even an article on a subject familiar to the writer requires some prior research in order that it should be current, accurate and interesting to the reader. Equally important are ensuring that required keywords or phrases flow and are used in context to the subject, as well as thorough proofreading before publication.
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